Last year in the blog post, “Mondays with Mary” – The Expectation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, I wrote the following –
“Trying to understand what the Blessed Virgin Mary was feeling one week before giving birth to Jesus is difficult since nothing about her thoughts are revealed to us in the Sacred Scriptures. At this point, it’s purely a speculative assessment. We know what Luke 2 tells us, however, we don’t know much more than this revelation. Was it difficult on Mary to be away from her family and her mother during this time? Even though the birth of Jesus was miraculous, as was his conception, what was Mary feeling? Did she know what was to occur?”
As is always the goal with these blog posts on Our Lady, I try to help you see the bigger picture with Mary’s role in Salvation History, the importance she plays in the life of Christ, and the importance of Marian theology in the life of the Church.
For today, I turn our attention to the words of the great 20th century Swiss Theologian and Catholic Priest, Hans Urs Von Balthasar, who in his book, Mary for Today, focuses on “Mary’s Nine-Month Advent.” What Von Balthasar writes in this section plays in the same arena as what I sought to articulate last year in the blog from above. Mary’s Expectation and Mary’s Advent are in correlation with one another since her expectation comes in the final days of her advent.
Writing about the Blessed Virgin, Von Balthasar states,
“Mary’s nine-month Advent was not without pain…What Mary underwent during her Advent were above all mental and spiritual sufferings: every pregnancy that is lived in a genuinely human way includes a certain intercession, a certain suffering on behalf of the child on the way that is given to him as his birth as an invisible present of grace to take on the journey through life. It is a selfless hope, a commending to God or – if one does not know God – to the invisible powers that guide the fate of men and women. With what concern must Mary have prayed for the child growing within her and worried about it in advance! Did she have a premonition that the Messiah would have to suffer? We do not know.
But some overpowering fate must await him. Simeon in the temple would confirm this to her: ‘Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is spoken against..’ For woman, pregnancy does not proceed without some element of fear: for Mary not without some presentiment of the Cross. From the outset she had a share in it that could not be defined.
We do not know to what extent physical hardships were linked with these mental and spiritual sufferings; but it is quite possible that they lasted until shortly before the birth, which in the end took place as a miracle, as the sudden beginning of what is final and definitive. At the birth every pain was dissolved in pure light. How her womb opened and closed again we do not know, and it is superfluous to speculate about an event which for God was a child’s game, something much less important than the original overshadowing by the Holy Spirit.
Someone who accepts this first miracle as valid – and as a believer one has to, otherwise Jesus would have had two fathers – should not toss and turn over accepting the second miracle, the Virgin Birth. For Jews it is truly astonishing that that they should have been able firmly to translate into Greek with the work ‘virgin’ the old Hebrew prophecy ‘Behold, a young woman shall conceive’ (Is 7:14, where the term could already mean ‘virgin’). And thus only is it fitting that from the virginal son onward virginal fruitfulness should become a specific ‘vocation’ for men and women in the Church (1 Cor 7).”
So as we get more and more closer to the Incarnation on December 25, let us turn our gaze to Mary’s final days of her advent and ask her to lead us closer to her infant son, Jesus Christ. For it is always Mary, our Mother and Virgin, our Advocating Queen, who desires to bring us closer to Jesus, now and forever. Amen.